Six Ways to Manage Migraines
6. Take supplements One of the best long-term prevention strategies is to take natural supplements. Try these one at a time for at least three months to determine whether they’re working for you:
GUT BRAIN THERAPY: You can trigger-proof your digestive tract with Gut Brain Therapy’s two-part protocol, which works to strengthen the enteric nervous system housed in your gut. The Foundation Formula “feeds” the gut with easily digestible proteins derived from fish, and the Renew Formula stimulates liver and kidney function with an herbal blend that includes milk thistle, dandelion, beet root, and artichoke. (See foreverwell.com.)
Research: A small study published in Alternative Medicine Review found that 80 percent of the participants who took Gut Brain supplements for three months reported improvements in migraine frequency and severity.
Dosage: Follow label guidelines
COENZYME Q10: It’s not clear exactly how the vitamin- like substance known as CoQ10 works—it might improve the brain’s ability to metabolize glucose, Halpern hypothesizes.
Research: A study published in the journal Neurology found that CoQ10 could reduce migraine frequency by up to 50 percent.
Dosage: 100 mg, three times a day
MAGNESIUM: This simple mineral has musclerelaxing properties and may stave off a migraine by preventing blood vessel spasms, notes Maureen Williams, N.D., a naturopath in private practice on Cortes Island, British Columbia.
Research: In a study published in the journal Cephalalgia, patients who took magnesium every day for 12 weeks reported significantly fewer migraine attacks (versus those taking a placebo) after only nine weeks.
Dosage: 600 mg a day, says the Cephalalgia study
BUTTERBUR: The herb butterbur stabilizes the cells that produce histamine, so it’s a good choice for those who also suffer from allergies, says Debra Brammer, N.D., clinical dean of naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University. Look for products such as Petadolex (migraineaid.com) that are free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (potentially toxic compounds).
Research: The herb was shown to significantly reduce migraine frequency in some people, according to a study in the journal Neurology.
Dosage: 100 mg, three to four times a day
FEVERFEW: “This herb may work by inhibiting the inflammation cascade and stabilizing substance P, the neurotransmitter responsible for the pain response,” Brammer says.
Research: Clinical studies are mixed but feverfew has been used as a migraine treatment in folk medicine.
Dosage: 100 mg, three times a day
TOOLS THAT SOOTHE Try these creature comforts to offset problematic symptoms, and make migraine pain more bearable.
1. STILL POINT INDUCER ($22; greenfeet.com). When you feel a headache coming on, lie down for 15 minutes with the back of your head on a still point inducer, a small device with two mounds that cradle your skull. The device mimics the effects of craniosacral therapy: Your weight provides gentle pressure to improve blood flow, correct misalignment, and help you relax.
2. SOOTHEZE MIGRAINE MIRACLE MASK ($20; sootheze.com). Apply a Miracle Mask, hot or cold, to relieve sinus pressure that sometimes accompanies a migraine.
3. HOTSPA FOOT BATH PLUS ($35; folica.com). Warming the feet can help draw blood flow away from the head and relieve pain, says Ronald Stram, M.D., founder of the Center for Integrative Health and Healing. While you toast your tootsies, chill a pair of thin cotton socks in ice water. When you’re done soaking (at least ten minutes), wring out the socks and put them on your feet. Then cover with a pair of warm, woolen socks. The body will now start warming your feet, and in two or three hours, your head will hurt less.
4. M-GRAIN BY YOUNG LIVING ESSENTIAL OILS ($52.50; youngliving.us). M-Grain combines three oils known for their antispasmodic and antiinflammatory properties—peppermint, lavender, and marjoram. Rub it on the back of the neck, the shoulders, and anywhere on the scalp where there’s pain.